N.J. home makeover: A lavish kitchen full of high-end appliances and copper accents

N.J. home makeover is a regular feature on NJ.com that showcases designer, contractor and DIY renovations, large and small. To submit your renovation for consideration, email home@starledger.com with your full name, email address, phone number and town/city. Attach “before” and “after” photos of what you renovated.


In what might literally be a million-dollar kitchen, celebrity interior designer Vanessa Deleon had the goal of bringing glamour, practicality and fun to the newly constructed Edgewater home she shares with her restaurateur husband Bobby Bournias and their 3-month-old son.

This four-story home of nearly 9,000 square feet is split between family home (three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half bathrooms) and what will include an office for Deleon, a working kitchen and public area for events and the couple’s yet-to-be-determined pursuits. This home, which Deleon modeled after a French chateau, has a first-level gym and a rooftop swimming pool and bar. 

In the kitchen, she designed cabinetry to accomodate luxury appliances, a 75-inch TV and a moving library-style ladder. The kitchen island has tops and sides covered by Cambria quartz, with a drop on one end that makes a casual dining area for four. It satisfies her husband’s desire for a breakfast nook within the 600-square foot cooking, entertaining and family space. At the other end, an unusual platform, 22 inches high, is angled around one corner.

“You can drop your bags right on top,” Deleon says, adding that using the lower surface is easier than having to lift groceries to the island’s 36-inch-high top.

Deleon, who herself is a petite 5 foot 2, also envisioned the platform as a step up.

“Kids can stand on it, and you can cook with them,” she says. “You can have two or three kids standing on it, and they are at the same level as you are.”

Additionally, the platform’s “cocoa-greige” color ties in with the range from La Cornue, a French maker of status stoves. The cost of the Chateau 150 model Deleon selected can easily approach $70,000, including the cost of its cooktop (starting at $17,500) and custom features.

The range hood from Amore Design Factory is custom trimmed in black and made of copper, Deleon’s preferred metal, which is also used to accent cabinet doors.

“I actually designed those corners specifically for this project and had them laser cut,” she says.

In the butler’s pantry, copper-tone metal is wrapped around wood for the cabinet doors and shelves. This was an experiment, she says, to try an alternative use for products from Wilsonart, a brand that specializes in laminates and other engineered surface materials. “

Wilsonart has these great metals that they use for accents,” she says. “I said, why not use it for the whole cabinet? We did, and it was successful.”

It’s one example of partnerships that various brands will form with someone whose expertise, style or celebrity can influence the buying decisions of others. As an interior designer, Deleon also has the experience and client base to know what might resonate with other homeowners.

She would not disclose what she and her husband spent on the kitchen, and that information would not have given a sense of what replicating this sort of kitchen would cost. The appliances and materials Deleon selected were provided free, or deeply discounted, through promotional partnerships with several luxury brands. Additionally, designers are able to buy most materials at discounted trade rates that enable them to support a business when they set prices for their clients.

As a brand ambassador for True Refrigeration, Deleon’s kitchen showcases the company’s 42-inch side-by-side refrigerator in black with copper hardware. The unit would ordinarily sell for about $15,400, including black paint that adds $300 to the base price, and copper hardware adding $1,600. The kitchen has matching additions in True’s under-counter refrigerator with glass doors ($3,599) and a dual-zone wine cabinet ($4,549).

While Deleon’s Manhattan design firm works on commercial and high-end residential interiors, she is best known as a television personality. She has  redesigned restaurants on the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible,” and interiors on NBC’s “American Dream Builders,” HGTV’s “Generation Renovation” and “Design Star,” as well as several reality TV shows.

Deleon, who grew up in Fairfield outfitting customer’s homes through her parents’ furniture business, naturally progressed to interior design.

While the couple was overseeing the design, construction and furnishing of their home, they also were preparing to open their second Brownstone Pancake Factory. It’s an offshoot of the legendary Brownstone Diner, started by the Bournias family in 1960s Jersey City and featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

Deleon designed their first pancake factory in Edgewater with an upside-down outdoor theme that will be carried to the second location, set to open early Novemenber in Englewood Cliffs.

“It’s the same concept, with the exact same menu, except we have a liquor license at this location,” Deleon says. “Eventually, our plan is to franchise.”

Meanwhile, she says she cooks dinner every night in their new kitchen. As for her husband, whose input she sought in the design, “he does more breakfast than anything else.”

What they renovated

Newly constructed four-story home in Edgewater

Who did the work

Signature Home Builders of Englewood Cliffs with cabinetry and millwork by MDM Woodworking of Hawthorne

How long it took

A year for construction and interior design

What they spent

Undisclosed

Where they splurged

On the kitchen, including an imported La Cornue range and other luxury appliances and fixtures. 

How they saved 

Vanessa Deleon entered promotional partnerships with several luxury brands that provided their products free or at a steeply reduced price.

What they did themselves

Deleon fully designed the house, with an architect preparing construction plans. 

What they like most

The large kitchen island 

What they’d have done differently

“I would make my husband’s gym much larger,” Deleon said. 

Kimberly L. Jackson may be reached at home@starledger.com. Find NJ.com Entertainment on Facebook.

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